China, U.S. pledge no new trade protection measures as Obama's visit in sight

22:13, October 29, 2009      

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Delegates attending the 20th China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) pose for a group photo in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, Oct. 29, 2009. China and the United States on Thursday started their annual trade talks in Hangzhou. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan co-chaired the meeting with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Trade Representative Ron Kirk of the United States. The JCCT began in 1983 as a platform for both countries to promote trade and address issues of mutual concern. (Xinhua/Wang Dingchang)


China and the United States said Thursday they would not stage any new trade protection measures against each other, a significant step which lays the groundwork for the presidential summit next month.

"Both sides agreed on not introducing any new trade protection measures against each other as both vowed to oppose trade and investment protectionism and observe the related consensus of the G20 summit," Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said later Thursday.

Chen made the remarks at the end of the 20th China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) talks in China's eastern city of Hangzhou.

The comments also came at a time of increasing China-U.S. trade disputes in the past months, involving Chinese tires, cement products, U.S. poultry and others.

"The pledge is significant as it shows both countries' determination to dump punitive measures against each other and instead seek common prosperity," Niu Xinchun, a research fellow with China Contemporary International Studies Institute, told Xinhua.

"As influential powers, China and the United States should stand firmly against all types of trade protectionism, promote both countries' economies and help lift the world out of recession," Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan told the opening session of the JCCT Thursday noon.

Wang co-chaired the 20th JCCT talks with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk in a lakeside garden compound in the capital of east China's Zhejiang province.

Locke highlighted the significance of this year's talks, saying it is the first JCCT meeting of President Obama's administration and comes a few weeks ahead of President Obama's first visit to China.

Wang said President Obama's visit in mid November will "provide new opportunities for China-U.S. cooperation."

"In a spirit of candor and understanding, hopefully both sides will discuss issues of mutual concern and achieve fruitful results at today's JCCT meeting," Wang said.

"It is critical that we make definite, concrete, demonstrable progress today to demonstrate that U.S. and China can work together to achieve results from the JCCT," Locke said.

Later Thursday, the U.S. commerce chief lauded the one-day JCCT talks as "successful," as both sides "made very significant progress on a number of issues."

Locke said China will drop a requirement that most of the components of wind power-related equipment be made in China.

"The United States agreed to delete some articles in its bill which limited China's poultry exports for six years," Chinese Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai said in response to a Xinhua's question.

In return, China will resume imports of pork products from the A/H1N1 flu-hit areas in the United States, Sun said.

As for trade imbalance, China's commerce chief said both sides agreed at the JCCT talks that the solution was not to limit China's exports to the United States, but strike a balance by aggressively boosting bilateral trade.

China and the United States are each other's second-largest trading partners, with bilateral trade hitting 211.87 billion U.S. dollars from January to September in 2009, according to China Customs.

China and the United States also vowed to work together to tackle increasingly rampant piracy in areas like the Somali coast.

China and the United State will also step up tourism cooperation, China's tourism chief Shao Qiwei said. Now Chinese citizens in 21 provincial areas, rather than the previously nine, will be allowed to conduct group tour in the United States.

"China agreed to treat goods made in China by U.S. joint venture firms as domestic products in government procurement tenders," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.

On China's status as a market economy, Locke recognized China's progress in this regard and said a working group will be set up to review China's market economy status.

The JCCT has played a crucial role in addressing China-U.S. trade disputes. Bilateral trade soared in value from less than 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in 1979 to 333.7 billion dollars in 2008.

At Thursday's talks, the Chinese side included officials from the ministries of commerce, agriculture, science, environment, transportation, health, agriculture, press and publishing, and tourism.

The U.S. delegation consisted of officials from the departments of commerce, the trade representative office, agriculture, state, treasury and the U.S. embassy in China.

The JCCT includes more than 10 working groups that deal with specific trade issues like trade, investment, energy, science and technology, transportation, aerospace, health, environmental protection, tourism, food security, product quality and others.

The JCCT began in 1983 as a platform for both countries to promote trade and address issues of mutual concern.

At the end of Thursday's JCCT talks, China and the United States signed 11 trade deals covering mutual investment, high-tech and tourism, among others.

"Today's JCCT has laid a solid groundwork and made full preparations for President Obama's visit in two weeks, which will help build the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relations toward the 21st century," China's commerce chief Chen Deming said.

Source: Xinhua
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